Long after the turkey is deboned and the pumpkin pie is only a memory, the meaning of the family celebration lives on. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday as it is the only one that remains unmarred by crass commercialism. It is a time for us to pause and reflect on the things for which we are thankful.

I am thankful for obvious things.... I am thankful for having being born an American where we have certain unalienable rights and are free to exercise them, to take them for granted, or to ignore them.

I am thankful for the Pilgrims who braved an angry ocean and withstood seeming insurmountable hardships to blaze a country with freedom to worship. I am thankful for our forefathers and the foresight and wisdom of our Constitution. Harpers Magazine, in 1858, published the fate of the signers of the Declaration of Independence: two had sons kidnapped; five were captured as British traitors; nine died on the battle field; twelve had their houses ransacked and burned; all suffered hardships, ridicule and rejection. All died with a clear conscience of having served their country well.

So I am thankful to be an American where we have so many freedoms. And, even though it has been abused and taken to extremes, I am thankful for free speech.

I am thankful for my family ... I am thankful for parents who reared me to have character, integrity and an appreciation for an honest days work. They gave me independence by giving me security; they gave me freedom by giving me roots; they gave me responsibility by giving me freedom to suffer the consequences of wrong choices.

I am thankful for my brothers whose harassing taught me endurance and whose kidding taught me to laugh at life and at myself. I am thankful for my sister whose unconditional love taught me to accept myself as I am and whose tolerance of my childish acts taught me patience. I am thankful for my elderly aunt who, until her death at age 98, taught me that life is fun at any age and worth living to the fullest.

I am thankful for my husband whose encouragement has supported my dreams, whose strengths have complimented my weaknesses and whose security with who he is has given me the freedom to remain who I am.

I am thankful for our daughter whose sheer delight in life brings joy to my days and purpose to my existence. I am thankful for our son-in-law who has added a wonderful dimension to our family. I am thankful for our grandchildren whose winning ways melt my heart and reestablishes hope for the future.

I am thankful for assorted relatives who have touched my life in various ways - some good, some bad - but all uniting us as a family. I am thankful for friends. For acquaintances whose smiling greetings make casual encounters more fun; for neighbors whose comity lends unity to my corner of the world; and for those special comrades who laugh with me, cry with me, grow with me.

I am thankful for each person whom I have come in contact with for he/she has touched my life in a unique way.

I am thankful for less obvious things.

I am thankful for misunderstandings, because they teach me to be a better communicator. I am thankful for criticism, for it forces me to examine actions and attitudes of self-righteousness and leads to repentance.

I am thankful for failure, because it makes me appreciate successes. I am thankful for adversity, because it is in the winter that roots grow deepest to find fresh nourishment; for financial reverses, because it helps me to be grateful for what I have.

I am thankful for challenges that tax every fiber of my being, for it forces me to grow in new directions. I am thankful for dreams, ideas and goals, for they keep me active, energetic and alive. I am thankful for a contented mind and a grateful heart.

Once a year we celebrate Thanksgiving. Everyday let us celebrate Thanksliving.

DON’T COPE, OVERCOME: The prophet Moses proclaims to the children of Israel, "Don't forget." When you dwell in this new land that flows with milk and honey, don't forget it was God who brought you here. When you prosper, don't forget it is God who gives you the ability to work and dream and accomplish. When your children multiply and your cattle increases, don't forget it is God who gives the increase. Don't forget. Don't forget. (Deuteronomy 27-29)

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